Thursday, July 4, 2013



Sitting in my library the ceiling fan rotating with a low hum I can watch the tiny world of our backyard bustle with the antics of suburban wildlife from the vantage point of my chaise. When I try to compare New York and Madison and weigh the benefits of each, I'm always willing to give Madison the edge on beautiful days. In New York I'm inclined to give the city an average of seven a year. Seven days when you can see for miles, the humidity is low and all the park fountains are working. Madison tops out at around twenty-three perfect days per year. Yes, there's less smog, more greenery and fewer people trying to elbow you out of the way but that's what makes Madison consistently one of the ten most livable cities in the country.  Days like today are the ones that sway my pendulum toward the Midwest, perfect days, bright and sunny, not too humid and not too hot.
Days when if it weren't for the trees that fill our backyard you could see all the way across Lake Monona to the Capital isthmus and it seems all the way west to the Mississippi if you could get up high enough for the view. But from our library with the French door open the view is a picture of verdant green with scampering rodents, the ones with the cute quotient.
An entire family of bunnies chase each other from one end of the yard to the other, the baby ones stopping to peer into the house. Squirrels clamor up the apple tree in that circular motion going round and round until they reach the top like the movement of a barber's pole. And little chipmunks scurry over branches and boldly come right to the entrance of the door until I have to shoo them away. Each variety of animal life at play and in harmony with each other as they play and go about their business in the confines of our backyard.  I'm sure the unscreened door has been an invitation to some unwanted guests as well: a few spiders and quite possibly a mouse or two, but we've always been open to guests.
A few days ago a cardinal decided to venture in and then couldn't find its way out. Rick had to trap it in a towel and release it outside. Unfortunately, the excitement for the cardinal resulted in a loss of body control leaving a few oozy white bird droppings on the stairwell and a living room pillow.
When I was growing up I never realized how vast and varied the wildlife of suburbia could be. It amazes me now how harmoniously we can all coexist.
On this Fourth of July things seem a little more peaceful, a little more accepting. The atmosphere feels more serene as I sit on our chaise listening to the chatter of the birds, some far off bells and the sounds of the most recent rulings by the Supreme Court. Even as I left New York there were fireflies lighting my way as I walked across West 75th Street, a sign of how things seem to be coming together as one.

Man with Wings, 1994
Frank W Ockenfels III, photographer
Represented by the Clark Oshin Gallery at the Icon, Los Angeles

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